SARE PDP Training the Trainers in Community-Based Food Systems

CEFS leads a train-the-trainer project with county-based, Extension-led teams focused on local food systems

From 2009 to 2011, the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) was engaged in a two-year train-the-trainer grant from the Southern Region Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Professional Development Program (SARE PDP). This initiative was the result of an overall set of state and local action ideas that CEFS and numerous statewide partners and community groups are working on as part of a Statewide Action Plan to build a sustainable local food economy.

The overall program aimed to form broad collaboration of extension personnel across disciplines— including agriculture agents, 4-H agents, family and consumer agents, and marketing and business planning specialists—paired with community leaders, policy makers, business owners, farmers and local consumers.

The project utilized a project-oriented case study team approach to train extension-led teams about community-based food systems and facilitate in-county projects. Through an RFP process six county teams were selected in 2009 to participate in year-one training.

On February 25-26, 2010, CEFS hosted these six community teams for a two-day training workshop on building local food systems. With attendees representing Alexander, Burke, Catawba, Chatham, Cleveland, Gaston, Guilford, Jackson, Lenoir, Lincoln, Lee, Moore, Richmond and Swain counties, this CEFS training focused on participatory collaboration, expanding extension reach and education capacity across communities. We worked with an extensive list of partners from all sectors of the food system and from across the entire state, to provide this participatory training workshop for the six community/extension teams, enabling community groups to develop their local food systems.

Results of the first year of the project

Each of the county-based teams took the information they learned at the workshop back to their home county/counties and interdisciplinary project teams. They all developed project plans through a ‘logic model’ approach and completed six successful local food system projects.

In January 2011, each of the year-one teams shared their project stories and lessons learned in a regional context at a panel discussion at the annual Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group conference, a regional organization of 13 southern states. This panel discussion served as a regional training and sharing opportunity for the year-one teams as well as a training session for year-two teams on building local food systems.

Year two of community-based food systems training

In fall 2010, the six year-one teams chose six new teams to carry out six new local food projects. These new teams represent Extension-led partnerships in Forsyth, Montgomery, Cleveland, and Greene County as well as the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The year-one project teams are training and supporting year-two teams in planning and implementation of their local food systems projects. See below for year-two team project plans and project summaries.

Community-based food systems resources gathered and created through the project

A number of community-based food systems resources have been gathered and created for use by project teams. These resources are organized and available through this website for project team and public use. To date, the resources include weblinks and downloads of presentations and literature on community-based food systems as well as two webinars.

Final Results

The final report for this project as well as several other resources developed through the project can be accessed on the SARE website.

Funding for this initiative provided through the USDA, Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Professional Development Program.